Music Article

Albums: June 17, 2011

The latest from Barry Manilow, Sondre Lerche, and more

Andy Grammer, Andy Grammer
The singer-songwriter's solid debut — featuring the VH1 hit ''Keep Your Head Up'' — sounds like a mash-up of Jason Mraz, Michael Bublé, and John Legend. It's all easily listenable, if scarcely original. BTanner Stransky

Cults, Cults
The buzzy co-ed Brooklyn duo conjure lo-fi indie noise and '60s girl-group production — sometimes losing themselves in the Wall of Swirl. But their peaks (like the groovy ''Oh My God'') are hummably sweet. BKyle Anderson

Youssou N'Dour, Dakar-Kingston
The Senegalese singer journeyed to Jamaica's Tuff Gong Studios to record this reggae set with Bob Marley's old keyboardist Tyrone Downie. The spirited originals catch a fire, but N'Dour fares best on a tender remake of his own ''Joker.'' B+Mikael Wood

Sondre Lerche, Sondre Lerche
Winsome Norwegian Lerche is fast becoming indie rock's Burt Bacharach with his clever, unobtrusive lyrics and artful melding of jazzy folk with punchy power pop. A-Joe Lynch

Emily's Army, Don't Be a Dick
The California quartet — whose drummer is Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong's son — deliver raggedly sharp guitar licks and plenty of humor (see: the jilted-by-Barry-Bonds anthem ''Asslete''). B+KA

Barry Manilow, 15 Minutes
Following several boomer-bait covers albums, the Copacabana crooner returns to songwriting with a set of pop-rock originals about the vicissitudes of fame. The insights could be fresher, but Manilow's voice still oozes superstar serenity. B-MW

Originally posted Jun 10, 2011 Published in issue #1159 Jun 17, 2011 Order article reprints